Parliamentary inquiry into River Murray floods gets green light despite Labor’s opposition

The Opposition has successfully moved to establish a Parliamentary inquiry into the recent River Murray floods to help learn how South Australia can better prepare for future flooding events - despite the Malinauskas Labor Government inexplicably opposing the move.

The Liberal Party move to establish the inquiry passed the Legislative Council on Wednesday night with the support of the crossbench but opposition from Labor.

Thousands of home and business owners along the River Murray had their lives turned upside down during the flood event, with an estimated 4000 properties inundated with most requiring a complete rebuild or significant repairs.

Following the devastating 2019-20 bushfire season, the former Liberal Government moved swiftly to initiate an independent review to inform preparations for future seasons.

The Keelty Review was quickly accepted by the former Liberal Government, and immediate action was taken on the recommendations with $97.5 million invested into the Emergency Services sector to boost the state’s capabilities to save lives and properties.

Despite Emergency Services Minister Joe Szakacs labelling the recent River Murray floods as “one of the most, if not the most significant natural disaster in the state’s history”, the Malinauskas Labor Government inexplicably opposed the inquiry to review the flood preparation, response, and recovery.

Shadow Minister for Water Resources and the River Murray Nicola Centofanti said an inquiry is important to ensure South Australia is better prepared for future flood events.

“South Australia’s river communities have suffered immensely as a result of the recent floods and it’s critical these communities can have confidence in the Government’s response and recovery efforts,” Dr Centofanti said.

“By establishing a Parliamentary inquiry our aim is to fill the void left by Labor’s inaction and thoroughly investigate key aspects of the disaster – including the roles and responsibilities at all levels of Government, the grants processes and river flow management and modelling.

“The refusal by Peter Malinauskas to conduct an inquiry into the River Murray floods raises real concerns about transparency, accountability and preparation for future flooding events.”

Member for Chaffey Tim Whetstone welcomed the establishment of the inquiry.

“South Australia needs to make sure we are prepared as best we possibly can be for future flood events, and affected communities deserve confidence in the Government’s response and recovery efforts,” Mr Whetstone said.

“Despite a significant funding package on offer to those impacted by the floods, only a tiny amount has trickled to those that need it.

“I think it’s vital we take a deep dive into the grants process – as it’s important this kind of funding gets to affected businesses in a timely manner.”

Member for Hammond, Adrian Pederick, said an inquiry into levee banks could provide critical information to help better prepare for future flooding events.

“Levee banks play a critical role in protecting our communities and farming properties from flood damage and I think this inquiry will help better inform decision making for future flooding events,” Mr Pederick said.

“The management of levee banks is a mixed responsibility between government and private land holders and getting this balance right will be critical moving forward.”

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